Is the label truly an accurate representation of how strong your weed is?
Do you know how strong your weed is? Most people don’t. For most consumers, a dealer just told them their weed is the dopest dope they’ll ever smoke, or the dispensary slapped some sticker on a jar with a THC percentage.
But dispensaries often stock weed that’s been sitting in jars for months, drying out and losing potency with time. And weed dealers are salesmen as much as anyone else. The potency of weed is important, especially for those who need it for medical purposes. So how can you find the truth? Luckily, there are a few ways.
Below, we took a deep dive into the world of cannabis potency testing and how you can do it from home. Mind you, many of these testing kits are pretty expensive, as they come with high-tech devices and gadgets that give you a more detailed analysis of your weed’s cannabinoid content and potency.
But, if you’re adamant about using certain cannabinoids and knowing exactly how much of each compound is present in your flower, then at-home potency tests are for you. Read on to learn more.
As the legal cannabis market grows, so does the range in quality of weed. It can be nearly impossible to know what you’re getting without an independent test.
For medical users, the reason to test weed is obvious. It’s important to know what you’re putting into your body if you’re hoping to treat an illness. Lab tests are the most accurate, but they’re a little expensive, usually costing more than a hundred dollars per test. Home tests are less accurate but comparatively cheap.
For non-medical users, if you’re looking to find out what you actually like about weed, doing some tests isn’t a bad idea. You might learn that weed with a high CBD-to-THC ratio is best for you. Or you might learn that you don’t actually like potent weed and prefer something with a little less THC. The only way to know for sure is to try.
There are a few ways to test the potency of cannabis. The most common uses testing fluid, which later changes color based on the cannabinoid content. From there, the user compares the color to what’s on the chart, indicating how potent their cannabis is.
There are more advanced testing fluids as well, which usually come with home-testing kits. These kits let you take the fluid that’s changed color based on your cannabis, and place the samples into a machine for further testing.
From there, it can test the percentage of each cannabinoid individually by monitoring the rate at which each cannabinoid passes through the filter. These testing kits are a bit more advanced, but they’re great for consumers who’d like to know the exact cannabinoid content within their flower to better predict the effects and experience.
There are a bunch of different cannabis and medical companies that sell kits to test THC potency at home— and they’re not all equally accurate.
The simplest and perhaps least precise home testing method involves just taking a pinch of weed, shaking it in testing fluid, and waiting. After a little while, the solution changes color, and you match the color of the solution to a chart to see a range of how potent the weed is. While the range, of course, is not exact, this testing method is pretty cheap and easy. The same method can be used to test edibles and CBD potency.
Other home tests are not only more accurate, but they can teach you more about the weed you’re testing. Instead of just looking for THC and CBD, they also measure other cannabinoids. These tests are usually more difficult to do. They involve fairly precise measurements of different fluids and a certain artistry in learning how to read the residue left over after the testing process.
Once you get the hang of these tests, though, not only can you be fairly confident in knowing how strong your weed is, you can learn more about what kind of cannabinoid profile you prefer in a strain. This can be valuable for someone who lives in a state where weed is prohibited and doesn’t have the luxury of testing many different strains from the dispensary at once.
See the 3 most common cannabis potency tests below.
Testing Fluid: Perhaps the easiest way to test your cannabis flower at home is by using testing fluid. This requires no expensive devices or electronics, as it’s basically a quick lab test at home. These tests involve dropping a sample of your strain into testing fluid, which changes color based on a chemical reaction. From there, you match the color with the shades on the chart to indicate the potency of your cannabis.
Home Testing Kits: Home testing kits are similar to testing fluid, as these kits will usually contain testing fluid as well. However, they also come with other tools to help you get a further analysis of your strain, and they also work with concentrates, oils, edibles, and most cannabis products on the market. They can get pricey, so it’s recommended to stick with the testing fluid if all you want is to test the potency of your flower.
Portable Cannabis Testing Devices: These devices can be pretty expensive, but they’re a game changer for connoisseurs and cultivators alike. They’re different from the options above as they provide a more thorough and in-depth analysis of the strain, predicted effects, and cannabinoid content from an innovative, handheld, and portable device.
As accurate as home tests can be, they’re nowhere near as accurate or as thorough as lab tests. Lab tests can be expensive, but if you really want to know what’s in your weed, they are the best way to find out.
This measure is highly recommended for anyone who is immunocompromised and might get sick from smoking weed with contaminants. Even in California, for example, for the first six months of the legal recreational market, weed on shelves at dispensaries was thought to have pesticides from the leftover illicit market.
Labs exist all over the world, but depending on the legality of cannabis in your country or your state, it may be harder to find a lab that will test your weed. In marijuana-friendly places like Canada, there are usually a handful of testing facilities near most major cities.
The most popular testing method is called High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), in which the lab sends the solution through a high-pressure tube and detects what cannabinoids are in your cannabis at the molecular level. However, there isn’t a global testing standard for cannabis yet, so it’s still possible for test results to vary when they come from a lab.